Fitch Ratings, Ltd. is a division of The Fitch Group & is a credit rating agency which is designated as an [[NRSROs|Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization] (NRSRO) by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
It was founded in 1913, in New York City by John Knowles Fitch.
Fitch Ratings is a global rating agency committed to providing the world’s credit markets with independent and prospective credit opinions, research, and data. With 50 offices worldwide, Fitch Ratings’ global expertise, built on a foundation of local market experience, spans across capital markets in over 150 countries. Fitch Ratings is widely recognized by investors, issuers, and bankers for its credible, transparent, and timely coverage.
Fitch Ratings is headquartered in New York and London and is part of the Fitch Group. In addition to Fitch Ratings, the Fitch Group also includes Fitch Solutions, a distribution channel for Fitch Ratings products and a provider of data, analytics, and related services. The Fitch Group also includes Algorithmics, a world leading provider of enterprise risk management solutions. The Fitch Group is a majority-owned subsidiary of Fimalac, S.A., headquartered in Paris, France.
The firm was founded by John Knowles Fitch on December 24, 1913 in New York City as the Fitch Publishing Company. It merged with London-based IBCA Limited in December 1997, and is majority-owned by Fimalac a French holding company. In 2000 Fitch acquired both Chicago, Illinois-based Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co. (April) and Thomson BankWatch (December).
In 2008, in order to capitalize on products and services and enhance independence of the rating agency, a new division of the Fitch group was created, Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions hosts non-rating products and services, product developments and sales, and training services. The division activity includes deals valuation (as opposed to rating), data, research and both in-house and external training.
Rating system explanation
Long-term credit ratings
Fitch Rating' long-term credit ratings are set up along a scale from 'AAA' to 'D', first introduced in 1924 and later adopted and licensed by S&P. Moody's also uses a similar scale, but names the categories differently. Like S&P, Fitch also uses intermediate modifiers for each category between AA and CCC (i.e., AA+, AA, AA-, A+, A, A-, BBB+, BBB, BBB- etc.).
- AAA : the best quality companies, reliable and stable
- AA : quality companies, a bit higher risk than AAA
- A : economic situation can affect finance
- BBB : medium class companies, which are satisfactory at the moment
Non-investment grade (also known as high yield or junk bonds)
- BB : more prone to changes in the economy
- B : financial situation varies noticeably
- CCC : currently vulnerable and dependent on favorable economic conditions to meet its commitments
- CC : highly vulnerable, very speculative bonds
- C : highly vulnerable, perhaps in bankruptcy or in arrears but still continuing to pay out on obligations
- D : has defaulted on obligations and Fitch believes that it will generally default on most or all obligations
- NR : not publicly rated
Short-term credit ratings
Fitch's short-term ratings indicate the potential level of default within a 12-month period.
- F1+ : best quality grade, indicating exceptionally strong capacity of obligor to meet its financial commitment
- F1 : best quality grade, indicating strong capacity of obligor to meet its financial commitment
- F2 : good quality grade with satisfactory capacity of obligor to meet its financial commitment
- F3 : fair quality grade with adequate capacity of obligor to meet its financial commitment but near term adverse conditions could impact the obligor's commitments
- B : of speculative nature and obligor has minimal capacity to meet its commitment and vulnerability to short term adverse changes in financial and economic conditions
- C : possibility of default is high and the financial commitment of the obligor are dependent upon sustained, favourable business and economic conditions
- D : the obligor is in default as it has failed on its financial commitments.
- SEC Form NRSRO Exhibit 1 Fitch, 2010
- Fitch Ratings Global Corporate Finance 2010 Transition and Default Study Fitch, March 23, 2011
- "The Credit Outlook: Navigating a Risk-Laden Recovery" Fitch, January 19, 2011
Credit rating agencies such as Fitch Ratings have been subject to criticism in the wake of large losses in the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) market that occurred despite being assigned top ratings by the CRAs.
For instance, losses on $340.7 million worth of collateralized debt obligations (CDO) issued by Credit Suisse Group added up to about $125 million, despite being rated AAA by Fitch.
However, differently from the other agencies, Fitch has been warning the market on the constant proportion debt obligations (CPDO) with an early and pre-crisis report highlighting the dangers of CPDO's.
Current executive officers
Stephen Joynt - President & CEO of Fitch Ratings
- Fitch appoints Robert Harpel CTO Finextra, February 2, 2011
- A. M. Best (U.S.)
- Dominion Bond Rating Service (Canada)
- Egan-Jones Rating Company (U.S.)
- Fitch Ratings (U.S.)
- Japan Credit Rating Agency, Ltd. (Japan)
- LACE Financial Corp. (U.S.)
- Moody's (U.S.)
- Rating and Investment Information, Inc.
- Realpoint LLC (U.S.)
- Standard & Poor's (U.S.)
- Fitch Ratings
- U.S. Corporate Bond Market: A Review of Fourth-Quarter and 2010 Rating and Issuance Activity Fitch Ratings, February 7, 2011
- Global Corporate Rating Activity - Update First-Half 2010 Fitch Credit Market Research, September, 2010